Dr. Bill's Advice on Disaster Preparedness

It seems as if we are getting more and more extreme weather here in New England over the past few years. In 2011 we had tropical storm / hurricane Irene, tornados, and a surprise Halloween blizzard (as well as an earthquake, which really doesn't count). In 2012, on the 1-year anniversary of the 2011 blizzard, we had hurricane Sandy come up the Atlantic coast, which combined with a cold front that came across the U.S. from the West, as well as a cold air mass down from Canada. The resulting combination came to be known as "Frankenstorm".

One remarkable aspect of most of these storms is that there is often a considerable amount of lead-time before the disaster strikes, sometimes as much as two to three days. This allows for most people an unprecedented grace period to prepare for each storm.

Unfortunately, many people seem to think that preparing for disaster means stocking up on beer and toilet paper; while I grant the toilet paper is important, beer isn't really important to your long-term survival. What is?

I've been asked by my students to write up a list of things they can do to prepare for these kinds of events. Herewith are my recommendations, but bear in mind that the list will change as I think of more ways to prepare. With few exceptions, most of these items are fairly low-impact, in the sense that they don't require a lot of money or time spent up front in order to prepare. Most are just simple common sense. A few, however, do require a bit more preparation.

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